To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Freecom Mobile Drive CLS 250GB review

Freecom Mobile Drive CLS 250GB
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £69
inc VAT

The Mobile Drive CLS and its accompanying dock are a neat idea, but it's unacceptably expensive.


250GB hard disk, USB2, 110x79x14mm

If you have more than one or two external hard disks, you’ll quickly discover all the attached cables add a lot of clutter. In addition, finding files which could be stored on any one of a number of disks can be a chore. You could just buy a JBOD or RAID-capable external hard disk array, but these desk-bound disks are expensive and not very portable.

Freecom’s latest portable USB2 hard disk product, the Mobile Drive CLS, doesn’t have either of these issues. It consists of a USB dock with cradles for up to three portable disks. The dock then connects to your computer using a single USB cable which is used for both power and data. The spine of each disk has a removable paper label too, so you can clearly mark each ones contents.

The CLS is very expensive, though. A 250GB disk costs a staggering £69, or 28p per gigabyte, which is what we would expect to pay for a 500GB disk. A 500GB Freecom CLS disk is available, but costs an extortionate £95. Plus, the dock has to be bought separately for an additional £16. Only Freecom CLS disks will fit the dock, so you can’t buy better value disks from other manufacturers.

Freecom Mobile Drive CLS 250GB

Another flaw of the CLS system is that since multiple disks are sharing the same USB connection, copying data to more than one disk will slow performance. When copying data to one disk, performance was in line what we’d expect from a USB portable disk – large files were copied at an average speed of 29.6MB/s while small files were transferred at 17.2MB/s. Copying data to another CLS disk simultaneously however resulted in speeds dropping by around 7MB/s. To be fair, this performance drop isn’t as large as we’d feared and would affect any group of USB disks connected to a computer through a USB hub.

The Mobile Drive CLS system is a neat idea that we really wanted to like, but it’s simply too expensive to recommend. The easiest way of keeping external hard disk clutter to a minimum is to simply replace smaller disks with larger ones and keep all your data on the newer larger disks. Finding files is simply a matter of using software tools such as Windows 7’s search and labelling each disk with some masking tape.

Basic Specifications

Rating **


Hard disk Samsung HM252HX
Capacity 250GB
Formatted capacity 232GB
Price per gigabyte £0.28
Disk size 2.5in
Interface USB2
Power connector USB from host, external
Spindle speed 5,400rpm
Cache 8MB
Weight 146g
Size 110x79x14mm
Power consumption idle 3W
Power consumption active 6W

Buying Information

Backup software included Nero BackItUp2 Essentials
Price £69
Warranty two years RTB

Read more